59 New Theme Options

This chapter will cover the latest PDF options available on select themes (with more to roll out soon). Currently these options are available when the Clarke or Asimov themes are applied. The new options include:

  • Body font size and line height
  • Custom page size
  • Custom page margins
  • Custom headers and footers

How to Apply New PDF Theme Options

To apply the new options, you must first have the Clarke or Asimov theme applied. To do so:

  1. Go to “Appearance” –> “Themes”
  2. Find the theme.
  3. Click on “Activate” to apply it to your book.
  4. Once the theme is applied, go to “Appearance” –> “Theme Options” –> “PDF Options” and you will see the new options.

Body font size and line height

You can set your body font size and line height to a custom size. Before you do this however, it is important to know how font sizes work in Pressbooks.

The way our themes are designed (which is consistent with most good book design), the body font size is the basis for other measurements within the book. For example, you might have a body font size of 11pt. Your theme will then contain sizes that are defined in relation to that, by using ’em’ as the unit or measurement. So 1em = 11pt. Your line height might be 1.4em, or 1.4 x 11pt. Other elements that are linked to the body font size include:

  • Headings
  • Font sizes within tables
  • Caption font sizes
  • Footnotes
  • Margins (excluding page margins)

With this in mind, you should choose your body font size carefully, and know that it will affect other elements throughout your book.

You can also choose your line height. Most themes default to 1.4em or 1.3em, but you can choose whatever suits your book best.


Custom Page Size

While all the existing Pressbooks page sizes are still available, you will see that in the dropdown menu you can also select “Custom”. This will reveal two fields, where you can set the width and height of your page. Some things to note:

  • You must enter a value in either cm or in.
  • While there is technically no minimum or maximum setting, you should be aware of your printer’s specifications before selecting your size (if you plan on printing).


With this option, you can set each of your page margins to a custom size. We have included a small diagram to demonstrate which margins each setting affects on a two page spread:


Below this, you can enter a value for each of the top, bottom, inside and outside margins. Note:

  • These must be entered in either cm or in.
  • If you plan to use a print-on-demand service, setting any margin to less than 2cm risks not meeting their standards, and your file might get rejected (which can result in costly change fees to you). This is especially important for top and bottom margins where there is a running header or footer within the margin space.

Running Heads & Feet

In this section, you can customize the content that will appear in the running heads and feet throughout your book. The position of these will be determined by the styles of the theme you select, but you can insert a preset option from a dropdown menu, or custom text. The preset options vary for the introduction, parts, chapters and front and back matter, but most include:

  • Book title
  • Book subtitle
  • Book author
  • Section (introduction, part, chapter, etc.) title
  • Section author
  • Section subtitle
  • Blank
  • Custom

When you select one of these (except “Blank” or “Custom”) you will see a short piece of code appear in the field below the dropdown menu. These ‘strings’ instruct the system to go find a particular piece of information (the book title from your Book Info page, a chapter author from the chapter metadata etc.) and insert it into your PDF.

The “Custom” option allows you to enter any text you like, and can also be used to combine the elements above. For example, if you select “Book Title”, the following will appear in the field below:


If you select “Book Author”, you will see this:


With those two automatic strings, you can combine them using the “Custom” option like this:


Having trouble?

These options should make life easier when it comes to customizing your PDF exports, but as with any new feature, there can be teething problems. If you run into anything that isn’t working as it should, or if anything isn’t clear for you, let us know at support@pressbooks.com.



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Pressbooks User Guide by Book Oven Inc. (PressBooks.com) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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